Brandon Bernard, 40, was executed by the federal government on Thursday (December 10) night.
His execution marks the ninth this year by the federal government following a 17-year hiatus. Attorney General William Barr announced the reinstatement of federal executions this fall, and has plans to carry out the death penalty for four more people, three of them Black, before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Bernard, along with five others, were convicted in connection with the 1999 murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley in Texas. Bernard was 18 at the time and was the youngest person in 70 years to receive the death penalty for a crime committed during adolescence.
There was a national outcry to commute Bernard’s death sentence, from advocates and celebrities. A social media campaign “Help Save Brandon” was started to raise awareness about his case, and the others that are on track to be executed during Donald Trump’s last remaining days as president.
Bernard's attorney Robert Owens offered a statement after the Supreme Court denied the request for a delay stating, “Brandon’s execution is a stain on America’s criminal justice system.”
Five out of the nine jurors spoke out to advocate against Brandon's death sentence, stating his lawyers did not defend him properly. Additional investigation by Brandon's attorneys show that prosecutors withheld evidence that might have proven he was not a high-profile gang member, and less of a risk for future offenses at the time.
During his last words, Brandon spoke for more than three minutes, saying he’d been waiting for an opportunity to apologize to the Bagley family. “I’m sorry," a media witness quoted him, "That’s the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day."
Photo: Counsel of Brandon Bernard